Life is full of challenging decisions. Portland, for example, has two well-regarded hospital systems, Mercy and MaineHealth (the corporate parent of Maine Medical Center). When facing a health crisis – or a joyous event like childbirth – that requires services, this choice has been a challenge in the past. No more.

I’d like to thank MaineHealth CEO William Caron (annual compensation $1.2 million) for making this decision easier by suggesting that his company (MaineHealth) is eligible to sleaze out of its property tax liability while the rest of us are paying our teachers, police officers, firefighters and other first responders.

Attempting to bypass the obligations to our community indicates a willingness to shortcut on the kind of professionalism and quality ethical care we expect from our health care providers.

Mercy it is!

Pete Lyons

Westbrook

 

South Portland won’t need an open-for-business sign

 

In regards to the South Portland City Council’s decision to put a moratorium on business development in Willard Square: The state of Maine may be “open for business” but the city of South Portland surely is not!

Richard F. O’Brien III

South Portland

 

Balancing state budget on workers’ backs unfair

 

To see legislators at the State House seriously debate taking away benefits that were enacted back in the days when lawmakers were able to work together for the betterment of civilized society is disgusting.

Balancing the state budget on the backs of workers and people who are least able to afford it in order to give tax breaks to corporations and the wealthiest Mainers isn’t going to work. The proposed cuts to retired workers’ pensions are truly horrific as these people made commitments, some more than 30 years ago, to serve the state of Maine in return for a secure retirement.

In a country where we spend billions and trillions of dollars on foreign policy and tax handouts for the rich while people go cold and hungry, we should feel ashamed.

A state budget articulates our priorities and Maine needs to stand with its workers.

Linda Young

Wiscasset

 

Maine should take action to head off water crisis

 

The state of Maine is experiencing a water crisis as municipal water systems struggle to continue providing clean and affordable water.

From an impending 11 percent water utilities rate increase in Bangor to beach closures and advisories along the coast, the quality of our water is suffering and the cost is being transferred to us. As state funding for upkeep and maintenance of our water infrastructure decreases, consumer water rates increase. But without dedicated state and federal funding, Maine communities simply cannot afford to make all of the necessary repairs to pipes and water systems to keep our waters clean and safe.

Fortunately, Rep. Patrick Flood, R-Winthrop, has introduced a bond – L.D. 359 – that would create a source of federal funding to support water infrastructure and offer relief to state residents who may otherwise be forced to foot the bill. L.D. 359 would improve our water quality and ensure safe, reliable water for our communities.

Perhaps most importantly, L.D. 359 would create thousands of quality jobs at a time when our communities need it most. Maine’s unemployment rate continues to hover around 8 percent with 58,000 people out of work. According to the National Utility Contractors Association, for every $1 billion spent on water infrastructure, between 20,003 and 26,669 jobs are created.

The passage of L.D. 359 would generate 2,200 employment opportunities, not only in the water sector but also throughout the local economies that would benefit from the resulting increase in employment.

Every federal dollar invested in water infrastructure would yield a $1.59 return to our states. Rather than costing us more, let’s hold the governor to his promise to create jobs in Maine while we clean up Maine’s public water supply.

Nisha Swinton

Food & Water Watch Maine

Portland

 

Group looking for help keeping trail pesticide-free

 

Friends of Rails to Trails (FORT) is a local grass-roots organization that was organized in June 2010 in opposition to herbicidal spraying along a five-mile stretch of the Mountain Division Trail. The Maine Department of Transportation sprays for vegetation control along this abandoned railroad line running adjacent to the trail.

FORT initially communicated with the MDOT by providing information about the nature of the herbicides used and our concerns that these could be toxic to humans, wildlife, and contaminate ground water, and are a waste of taxpayer dollars.

With no response from the MDOT, the group met with the Bureau of Pesticide Control and attended a Pesticide Summit in Brunswick. The group also met with state Reps. Linda Sanborn, Jane Knapp and Phil Bartlett, and finally with MDOT Deputy Commissioner Bruce Van Note, and engineers Nate Moulton and Bob Mooseman. MDOT agreed to review its current herbicidal application plans but refused to stop the toxic spraying.

In November, FORT circulated a petition at Gorham polling places, requesting an end to the spraying, and 1,200 signatures were collected.

On April 14, with these signatures in hand, Joe Cerny and Den Morton met with the new MDOT deputy commissioner, David Bernhardt. Bernhardt agreed to stop the herbicidal spraying for one year to give FORT members a chance to prove that volunteers could do the weed control and maintain those trails with adjacent active rail lines to the state’s standards.

In addition to seeking new members, FORT is now asking for individuals and groups to come forward to help maintain the trail from Route 202 in Windham to the Otter Ponds in Standish. FORT’s goal is to keep the Mountain Division Trail free of chemical sprays so that all may continue to safely enjoy them.

Den Morton

Gorham